EDMONDS, Wash. - We have heard of arson dogs and bomb-sniffing dogs, but some dogs can detect a different threat - one that often hides and grows in homes.
It's a warning from FEMA and the state Department of Health: Check your homes for mold.
Mold can cause structural problems in homes and health problems in people.
German Shepherd Anna sniffs out mold.
"No man, no machine ever beats them and we've done test after test. We always say the nose knows," said Jill Gallagher, American K-9 Detection Service.
Gallagher has hidden samples of mold in an Edmonds home. Anna should sit as soon as she detects the presence of mold.
Mold has been a growing problem in many homes since the January floods. Homeowners ridding their homes of wet drywall and insulation know that mold can be a threat to their home's structure and their health.
Gallagher says mold-sniffing dogs are another tool of detection. Anna is trained to find 28 types of mold.
"Dogs are honest and they don't have any hidden agenda. And we're paid the same whether they find mold or not," she said.
Realtor Valerie Claypool usually asks her sellers to do pre-inspections of their homes before they put a home on the market.
Mold can be a deal breaker and it's better to deal with it sooner than later.
"Especially people with children, elderly people, anybody with asthma or allergies, it's always out in front," she said.
Anna's patter search would not only include the inside but the outside as well. She'd check the vents, the siding, even the downspouts for mold.
And while Anna can find the mold, she can't help you get rid of it.
Mold dogs usually cost $.25 per square foot, so a 1600sf home would cost about $400.